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Failure in Fiction: Take Heart, Readers

In my last blog entry, I noted that I would be attempting NaNoWriMo; that is, I would try to write 50,000 words in the month of November.  Succinctly put: I failed.  Utterly.  Miserably.  Horribly.  Failed.

Week one went well.  I wrote 10,000 words.  I don’t think that there was much plot, character development, or any setting of which to speak within the 10,000.  But oh there were words.  When week two rolled in, however, my little boy got sick.  Then I got what he had.  Then his sister got it.  And the thought of sitting down to write became so daunting I began actively avoiding nouns, verbs, a few adjectives, and most adverbs.  By week three I was so far in the hole that I wore my shame like a warm hug.  And week four?  Why do they even have National Novel Writing Month in November anyway?  It’s barren, freezing, dark, cold and flu season, and the gateway into winter holiday preparation!  Why would I have even wanted to finish?

The grapes of NaNoWriMo are very sour.

Nonetheless, I have 10,000 more words than I had at the beginning of November.  That’s something, as the good people of NaNoWriMo are quick to point out.  It is better to have written a few words than not to have written at all.  And for those like me who don’t always reach the goal on the first try, I give you a bibliography for reflection.  The books listed below demonstrate that if at first you don’t succeed (or even on the second, third, fourth, or fifth try), you still might be okay.


1.    Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

2.    Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Lloso

3.    The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier ( J C815c)

4.    Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (J Sp4s)

5.    Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

6.    Taking Off by Jenny Moss

7.    Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

8.    Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis

9.    Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood

10.  I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak


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The Library is coming to Hawes!

Drop-in research help will be available outside the Hawes Study on Wednesday, November 19th from 6:00 to 7:00 pm.  Stop by to talk with a Librarian and get help with your projects and papers!


Can’t make it to Hawes on Wednesday?  Don’t worry!  We’ve got you covered!  Drop-in research help is available 7 days a week, from noon to close at the Library Service Desk.  Nowhere near the Library?  We’ve still got you covered!  Email (, call (617-879-2222), or IM chat with us!

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Uncovering Reference Books: Art reference sources add color to your day

Are you getting an Arts degree from Wheelock? Doing the Art History program in conjunction with Emmanuel? Need some help on a paper, presentation, or assignment for Marjorie Hall’s class that has you stumped?

Or maybe you aren’t taking classes in art. But have you ever been walking through the MFA, enjoying your life near the arts center of Boston, and found yourself in the contemporary room? And realize you have no idea what you’re looking at? Or maybe you stumbled upon the Jasper Johns: Picture Puzzle exhibition at the MFA and want to know more about his work, such as Target (1974) seen below?

Jasper Johns, Target, 1974

If this sounds familiar, then we have just the reference book to alleviate your confusion and fulfill your curiosity! Contemporary Artists is a two-volume biographic index of contemporary artists that details many aspects of each artists’ life. Read through the biographies of the artists to get a sense of their lives and understand why they are important in the art world. Finding the artist you’re looking for is easy because the set offers an alphabetical index in the beginning of volume one and an index arranged by nationality in the back of volume two.

You can browse through the book to catch glimpses of works from the artists featured within. Although the images are not in color, you can still get an idea of the dynamic and breathtaking art created by these groundbreaking contemporary artists.

And there are even more features. Doing a paper on an artist for class? There are lists of sources about the artists for further research as well as a guide to the artists’ past exhibitions. Or maybe you just want to know what other museums have your new favorite artist’s work. Look at the guide to collections and find another treasure trove of art to explore.

Not into contemporary art? Or maybe you’re taking Women, Art, and Society with Marjorie Hall? Love gender studies or feminism? Interested in seeing the strides women in the United Stated made in art in the twentieth century? Or maybe during that same visit to the MFA, you find a great work by Georgia O’Keeffe, such as Deer Skull with Pedernal (1936) seen below, and want to know more about her and her work?

Georgia O'Keefe, Deer Skull with Pedernal, 1936

If so, you need to check out North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: a Biographical DictionaryThis volume contains biographic entries about influential women in the Untied States over the last century. Read through the text, gleaning information about the artists’ birth, life, and awards as you read about their importance and impact on the art world. See how women have empowered themselves through artistic expression and made strides in a male dominated field.

Like Contemporary Artiststhis book gives you reference for further reading, a resource that is essential when writing research papers! Flip through the book to see the styles and techniques of women artists throughout the 1900s. Maybe even pick up some artists to look for next time you go to a museum.

Whether you’re a scholar or a casual observer, you should browse Contemporary Artists and North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century. You’ll never know what you might discover.

Contemporary Artistsed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Call number: R 709 C76 2002; North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Centuryed. Jules Heller and Nancy G. Heller. Call Number:   R 709.2 N81

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Uncovering Reference Books: All Things Austen

Do you love Jane Austen? Are you curious about what she was like? What England was like during her lifetime? Are you trying to impress Marcia Folsom? Or are you just befuddled by the weird customs presented in her books? If you want to know the difference between a chaise and a carriage, whether or not Jane Austen enjoyed dancing, or why Mrs. Bennet had a penchant for sea-bathing, then All Things Austen: An Encyclopedia of Austen’s World is the reference work for you.

This two volume encyclopedia set seeks to uncover the details of daily life in Jane Austen’s life time and how these details manifest in her works. While the series is less expressly about her books—for instance, there is not an entry for “Elizabeth Bennet”—the entries do provide the title and page number in which it is referenced. Thus, if you are curious to know about “pregnancy and childbirth” during the time period but also how it is depicted in Jane Austen’s books, this set provides access to both.

Jane AustenPerhaps one of the most exciting features of the encyclopedia is its inclusion of Jane Austen’s writings. For example, it is typical to think only of Jane Austen’s novels when considering her work—however, she wrote character studies, comedy sketches, novel plans, etc. The breadth of her work is incorporated into the set, thus providing a comprehensive lens through which the facets of Jane Austen’s world can be appreciated by the curious and aficionados alike.

Take a peek into this set to learn about eighteenth-century teatime, taxes, and even dentist appointments. It will be a diverting dip into the life of one of the world’s most celebrated writers.

All Things Jane Austen: An Encyclopedia of Austen’s World, ed. Kristin Olsen, Call: R823 .Au74zOL8a

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